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While engaged in the study of the Cape Algce, my 
attention was almost imperceptibly directed to the Fishes 
that inhabit our bays. This branch of Colonial Natural 
History, I knew from experience, had hitherto been 
but little cultivated, and I thought it worth while, to 
arrange scientifically those species at least, which are 
used as food, and, to a considerable extent, form an 
article of trade. 

In publishing this ichthyological essay, I am fully 
aware, that I venture on a path, hardly trodden before 
in this Colony. It will therefore contain defects here- 
after to be corrected, especially as I have been unable to 
refer to, and compare, some of the standard works on 
Ichthyology; my chief guide having been personal 
observation, the accounts of the fishermen, and, above all, 
nature herself. 

The principal South African travellers, such as Sparr- 
mann, Thunberg, Barrow, Lichtenstein, and Burch- 
ell, although their many discoveries in the field of Natural 
Science, secured for them a well-merited rank amongst 
Naturalists, appear to have paid little or no attention to 
the cold denizens of the deep, and it was only in later 
years that this part of our Fauna became the subject of 
observation and study. Amongst the learned, that took 
a lively interest in South African Ichthyology, Messrs. 
Quoy and Gaymard, attached to the French Corvette 
/' Uranie, Capt. Freycinet, stand foremost ; for during 
their stay at the Cape in 181 8, they were busily engaged, 
collecting specimens of the various fishes caught in its 
bavs, for the Museum of Natural History of France, 


This institution was also enriched, through the industry 
of Monsr. Delalande, a Naturalist, who visited this 
Colony in 1820, where he made large and valuable col- 
lections, and by Mr. Jules Verreaux, deservedly known 
for his consummate skill in preparing and mounting 
specimens, illustrative of Natural History, who, during 
his nine years residence at the Cape, from 1825 — 1834, 
sent home to Paris, amongst other zoological objects, 
many species of Cape fishes. 

In like manner, the Museums of the Netherlands 
received ichthyological specimens through the late Dr. 
Huberttjs Benedictus van Horstock, of Alkmaar, 
a zealous Zoologist and a Physician, who, for his medical 
acquirements, will live long in the recollection of many 
an old patient and friend. 

Dr. Lourenco Jose Moniz, from 1844 — 1846, one of 
H. P. M. Commissioners to the Mixed British and Por- 
tuguese Court for the suppression and abolition of the 
Slave Trade, greatly interested himself in the study of 
Cape fishes, a collection of which he took with him, on 
his return to Lisbon. 

Cape Ichthyology however owes most to the indefatiga- 
ble exertions and labours of that renowned South African 
traveller, Dr. Andrew Smith, whose admirable work on 
the Zoology of this country, not only contains beautiful 
illustrations, but also the most elaborate descriptions 
of a number of fishes, peculiar to the Cape of Good Hope. 

The account given in the following pages, merely 
contains the edible fishes caught in Table Bay and Palse 
Bay, as also on the coast of Hottentots' Holland. Being 
but imperfectly acquainted with the fresh- water fishes, 
found in the rivers of the Colony, I have omitted them 
here, though some are said to be excellent. 

Dr. W. H. Harvey, in his work on the Genera of 
South African plants, justly remarks, that there exists a 
marked difference with regard to the species of Algae 
found in Table Ray, and those in the bays eastward of 

the Promontory. The same diversity takes place respect- 
ing several kinds of fishes, which are rare or absolutely 
wanting in the one bay, although common in the other. 
It is difficult to account for this phaenomenon, but as to 
the fishes, it seems probable, that, as particular crustaceae, 
mollusca, and sea worms, which feed on certain species of 
sea weed, are the chief nourishment of certain species of 
fishes, these last prefer the neighbourhood of such locali- 
ties, where they find supplies of food most proper for 
themselves and their progeny. 

Another curious circumstance, connected with the 
Ichthyology of this country, deserves the attention of 
naturalists ; viz : the fact, that not less than a dozen of 
fishes, natives of the Mediterranean, are likewise inhabi- 
tants of the waters washing our shores, while hardly any 
Indian or South American species are known to exist on 
the South African Coast. In common, however, with the 
United States, we possess the Scomber greoc, which is as 
abundant at the Cape as at New York. 

The fishes peculiar to the Mediterranean and this 
Colony, are the following species : 

Sphyraena Vulgaris,* Boops Salpa, Temnodon Saltator, 
Caranx Trachurus, Lepidopus Argyreus, Centriscus 
Scolopax, Scomberesox Sardus, Engraulis Encrasicolus, 
Gadus Merlucius, Echeneis Remora, Meliobates Aquila, 
and Leptocephalus Morrissii.f 

Amongst the fishes caught in Simon's Bay, and 
along the eastern shores, there is one in particular, which, 
for its extremely poisonous quality, is the terror of the 
fishermen and of the inhabitants, viz : the Tetraodon 
Honkenyi Block, of which a somewhat detailed descrip- 
tion may be acceptable. 

* A young individual of this fish was caught with the net, along with the Cape 
Mullet, in November last. It was unknown to the fishermen here. 

f This curious little, ribbon-like fish, not uncommon in Table Bay, is to be 
found amongst the rocks and sea weed. While in its natural element, it is perfectly 
transparent like glass, but soon becomes opaque when brought into contact with 
fresh water or alcohol. 


Body oblong ; skin thick, flabby, slimy, provided with 
small prominent prickles, particularly on the lower surface; 
belly capable of being inflated like a balloon. Head 
short, broad, flat ; lower mandible projecting ; both jaws 
sharp, cutting, each divided into the appearance of two 
teeth. Nostrils before and in front of the eyes, tubulous. 
Gill covers and three gills concealed under the skin, 
which has a small branchial cleft on each side. No 
ventral fin ; vent far behind, pectorals, and anal fin 

Ribs almost obsolete, intestines twice bent and 
without ccecal appendages, liver one-lobed, obtuse above, 
and pointed at base • milt and gall-bladder small, the 
latter of the size of a large pea. Kidneys large, placed 
very high, resembling lungs. Swim-bladder 2-lobed. 
Head, back and flanks brownish-green, marbled with 
greenish-white irregular blots. A broad, longitudinal, 
brimstone-coloured band, proceeds on each side of the 
body, from under the lower jaw, towards the tail. The 
lateral line commences under the eyes, ascends upwards, 
and ends near the caudal fin. All fins olive-green with 
a yellow tint. Belly white. Eyes small, partly covered 
by the skin ; pupils light bottle-green ; iris blood-red. 
Length 6" — 7 inches. Pect. 14. Dors. 9. Caud. 9. 
Anal 7. 

This fish fJBlaasopvisck ; Balloonfish ; ToadJlshJ is 
never found in Table Bay, but is very common in the 
bays to the east of it. It is very voracious and therefore 
easily caught. As soon as it is taken out of the water, 
it becomes inflated to a considerable extent, utters a 
particular sound resembling a grunt, and by its sparkling 
eyes, which then look truly terrific, betrays extreme 

In consequence of its covered gills and muculent coat, 
it lives for a considerable time out of its element. It 
has a nauseous odour and feeds on mollusca and crusta- 


The highly poisonous nature of this small fish, has 
been long known to the fishermen of the Colony, yet 
several persons have fallen a sacrifice from using it as 
food. I have it from good authority, that during the 
war times, when Muizenburg and the surrounding coun- 
try were occupied by an English encampment, some 
soldiers, who had been fishing on its coast, were killed 
by eating imprudently of it. But we have more recent 
cases on record, which prove beyond doubt its virulent 
property, for in August 1845, two seamen, belonging 
either to the Banket or Postillion, Dutch men-of-war, 
then lying at anchor in Simon's Bay, met with an un- 
timely death, from having partaken of this fish, while 
the same fatal result, in August 1846, occurred to one 
of the crew* of the French Corvette I! Oise, who died 
on board of that vessel from the very same cause, f 

The symptoms usually observed in cases of poisoning 
of this kind, are nausea, colic, great heat and itching 
of the skin, quick pulse, giddiness, loss of vision, cold 
clammy perspiration, and finally death under convulsions. 
The exact nature of the poison has as yet been but little 
ascertained. It has been ascribed by some to the feeding 
of the fish on poisonous Mollusca, by some to the disen- 
gagement of sulphuretted hydrogen, and by others again 
to a particular specific venom, not yet discovered by 
chemical analysis. Whether the fish possesses that 
poisonous quality at all seasons, is not sufficiently known, 
but it seems, that most species belonging to the tribe 
are equally noxious, for Osbeck, \ in his voyage to China, 

* This man's name was Pierre Couzinet. 

f In order to prevent similar occurrences in Simon's Bay, Government would 
greatly contribute to the public safety, by inserting in the Port Regulations a 
general warning against the use of this dangerous fish. A hint to that effect, was 
thrown out at that time in Silberbauer's Shipping List for 1846, August 14th, 
No. 137, but no notice, I think, has been taken of it by the authorities. 

J P. Osbeck's Voyage to China and the East Indies. Forster's Engl, translat. 
vol. 1. pag. 364-305. 



gives the following account of "Tetraodon ocettatus Lin!' 
"This fish (he relates) is one of the finest I ever saw, but 
so poisonous, that whoever eats of it, generally dies in 
two hours time. The Chinese, who affirmed the fact, 
seeing me take the fish into my hands, earnestly desired 
me to wash myself, adding, that it is forbidden under 
some great penalty, to be sold among other fish." 

The Tetraodon of the Red Sea, described and figured 
as T. Honkenyi, by E. Ruppel,* differs from our fish, as 
will be found on comparison. The Cape species is 
evidently identical with that of Bloch, and it is probable, 
that this naturalist received his specimen, not from the 
East Indies, as he states, but from this Colony, the more 
so, as no more specimens, I believe, have ever been 
obtained from that quarter. 

The characteristic features, which distinguish our fish, 
from that of the Red Sea, are a protruding lower jaw, 
rounded tail and pectoral fins, and a different hue. 

By the Cape fishermen, the Agriopi (Paardevisch ; 
Sea-horse), of which we have three very distinct varieties, 
are also said to be poisonous. The truth of this asser- 
tion, which is the mere result of imbecility and popular 
prejudice, I do not hesitate to contradict ; but CuviEitf 
must have been greatly misinformed, in stating, that 
these fishes are eaten by the Cape Colonists. 

The importance of fish as an article of commerce, is 
by no means insignificant at the Cape. Its several fishing 
establishments, afford a livelihood and occupation to a 
number of persons, belonging chiefly to the lower class. 
Much more could be effected, but for the heavy expenses 
attending this branch of colonial industry, produced by 
the comparative want of manual labour. The principal 
foreign market for our fish-trade is the Mauritius, to 

* Atlas zur Reise im nordlichen Africa. Fische, Tab. 17. 
f Mistoire des Poissons. IV. pag. 387. 


which place considerable quantities are annually exported, 
as will be seen from the following statistical statement, 
kindly furnished me by a commercial friend : — 

Export of dried Fish from, Cape Town ■: 

In 1849, 13,800 Cwt. 

„ 1850, 17,800 „ 

„ 1851, 15,200 „ 

„ 1852, 12,500 „ 

It is difficult, nay almost impossible, to form an esti- 
mate of the probable consumption of fish within the 
colonial borders. Judging, however, from the great 
quantities used in a dried, pickled, and smoke-dried 
state, as an article of internal traffic, and taking into 
consideration, that fish is almost the principal food of 
the poorer people in Cape Town and other ports, that 
consumption must necessarily be very considerable. 

But it is not as nourishment alone, that fish is made 
subservient to commerce. The preparation of Isinglass 
affords to some countries the means of extensive trade 
and speculation. The air-bladder of some of our fishes, 
being large and firm, might yield that valuable substance, 
if we were willing to try the experiment. I make this 
observation with some confidence, having been told, that 
one of our principal wine-merchants makes use of the 
dried bladder of the Cape Kabeljauw, instead of isinglass. 

Besides the Fishes enumerated and described in this 
treatise, there are some Crustaceans, and several Mol- 
lusca, inhabitants of our seas, used as food by the 
Colonists. Amongst these, the Cape Lobster {Falinurus 
Lalandii Lam), is by far the most remarkable. This 
crawfish, peculiar only to the West Coast, and common 
to Table Bay, is easily caught in vast numbers all the year 
round, and attains a length of thirteen, and a breadth of 
nearly five inches. The flesh of the half-grown individuals 
is tender and delicate, while that of the adults is coarse 
and difficult of digestion. To the poorer classes of our 


community, and to Misers, tins crawfish is a regular 
God-send, and it is dried occasionally for preservation. 
Another Crustacea, a kind of Palcemon (Graneel, Shrimp) 
though small, is very good eating. 

Amongst the Mollusca, none are more eagerly caught, 
and none have such a deserved reputation as Haliotis 
Midae Lin. (Klipkous; Sea-ear), and a species of Stomatia 
(Paarlmoer). In Cape Town, these oceanic productions, 
which, by the bye, require a great deal of preparation, 
seasoning and ingredients before they reach the dinner 
table, are pronounced to be the most exquisite dainty, — 
the very pitch of delicacy. Cape Oysters (chiefly from 
Mossel Bay), are good, but, upon the whole, inferior to 
those in Europe. There still remain some muscles to 
be mentioned, which are collected at times, and sold 
as articles of food, viz : the Mytilus edulis. Lin., the 
well-known edible muscle of Europe, and Donacc den- 
ticulata. Lin., called Witte Mossels (white muscles), 
which latter is innocuous at some seasons, but venomous 
at others. In the course of my practice, I have had 
occasion to observe the bad effects, produced by the 
unguarded use of this animal. These were : violent 
fever, a general erythema of the skin, perpetual, almost 
intolerable itching, total want of sleep, vomiting and 

By some Cape inhabitants, several large species of 
Patella (Paardevoetjes, Limpets), and a kind of Nerita 
(Aardkiuipers), are also made use of, as a palatable 
and nutritious dish. 

Having thus far accomplished the task I had in view, 
when writing this essay, nothing remains, but to solicit 
indulgence from the public, and forbearance from critics, 
referring them all to the motto on the title page, which 
simply implies, that they must take the will for the deed. 

Cape Town, 26th April 1853. 




1. Trigla Capensis. Cuv. and Val. (?) (Roode 
Knorhaan; red Gurnard of the Colonists. J — Head, back, 
upper part of body, and fins rose-red. Belly silvery, 
white, shaded by rosy patches. Scales very small; 
lateral line nearly parallel. Interior surface of the pec- 
toral fins dark yellowish-green, with large black marks 
towards their bases, speckled with a number of pure 
white irregular spots. Iris red. Length 12 inches. 

Baron Cuvier, in giving a very short diagnosis of this species, 
specimens of which were sent him from the Cape by Delalande, 
remarks that " the dark spots at the inner surface of the pectoral fins 
were wanting ; but I have reason to believe, that his specimens had 
faded, and that through the effects of the spirits, in which they were 
preserved, the natural colours had been more or less obliterated. Ex- 
perience, and the accounts of the fishermen here, convince me, that 
this and the following species, are the only ones of the genus, caught 
in our Bays. Cuvier's observation, that the fish bears a great 
resemblance to the Trigla Kumu of New Zealand, is perfectly correct. 

Flesh firm, but palatable. Caught in summer with the hook, but not 
very common in Table Bay. 

2. Trigla Peronii. Cuv. & Val. (Graauwe or bruine 
Knorhaan ; grey Gurnard J — Head large ; forehead 
sloping; body declining in breadth towards the tail. 
Muzzle projecting ; teeth small but numerous ; upper 
mandible longest, divided into two lobes, and beset at 
its margins with five denticles. Two spines, unequal in 
length, are placed above each eye, and a strong spine at 
each side of the occiput ; opercular and scapular spines 
pointed, sharp. Anterior side of the first ray of the first 
dorsal fin slightly serrated j the second and third rays of 
that fin longer than the remaining seven. Ridges of dorsal 


grove, armed with a row of twenty-four blunt denticula- 
tions. Pectoral fins large, reaching beyond the vent ; 
tail lunated. Lateral line smooth; scales small, oval. 
Head, back, and sides brownish- grey, mottled with white 
spots ; belly pure white, mixed with purple. Pectoral 
fins olive-green on the inner surface, edged with azure, 
and embellished by a large black mark, sprinkled with 
white and sky-blue dots. Lower jaw and part of the 
pectoral and caudal fins pale-red, tinged with yellow. 
Iris with white aurora-red. Length from seven to 
fourteen inches. 

This species appears to be nearly related to T. Lyra, of Europe, and 
although it does not correspond in every particular with Cuvier's 
description, yet I think, that it is the same fish, which was anatomized 
by that Prince of Naturalists. 

Not often caught in Table Bay ; flesh equal to that of the preceding- 


3. Sebastes Capensis. Cuv. & Val. fJacob JEvertsen.J 
Body oblong, robust. Head large, bony, channelled 
above and between the eyes, and armed with spiny 
processes ; gill covers and preoperculum strongly toothed 
at the margins. Eyes very large, protruding from their 
sockets. Mouth wide, gaping; lips fleshy; teeth crowded, 
paved, small, sharp, and curved in both jaws. Soft 
rays of dorsal fin longest. Liver unequally three-lobed, 
gall-bladder of an oval form, and the pylorus provided 
with numerous ccecal appendages. Air-bladder large. 
Tile-red, with shades of orange, white, and yellowish- 
green ; marked on the sides with a few flesh-coloured 
spots. Belly white, tinged with orange. Palate and 
peritoneum greyish- white. Length 12 — 15 inches. — 
Called Jacob Evertsen, after a Dutch Captain, remarkable 
for a red face and large projecting eyes. 

This fish, though common to Table Bay almost at all seasons, is 
highly prized for its flesh by most Colonists. 

4. Sebastes Maculatus. Cuv. & Val. fSancord.J 


Similar to the former, but shorter, of a more slender 
form, and with eyes, neither projecting, nor mouth much 
gaping. Liver rather large, three-lobed; gall-bladder 
narrow and club-shaped ; pylorus without regular coecal 
appendices, but surrounded by a glandular greasy mass. 
Natatory bladder wanting ; palate and peritoneum black. 
Snout obtuse ; teeth criniform, arranged in a band 
around the inner edge of both jaws. Upper part of 
body tile-red, mingled with orange and shaded with 
brown. Scales with greenish-brown edges. Belly white, 
clouded with orange, and tinged with yellow. Length 
eight to twelve inches. Dorsal fin dim tile-red, sprinkled 
with yellowish-green irregular marks, and with darker 
chesnut-brown spots at the base of the membranous 
portion of its first spiny rays. Hue of pectoral, anal, 
ventral, and caudal fins, orange with carmin-red ; the 
8 lower rays of the pectoral fins detached at top from 
their connecting membrane. Iris yellow. 

A very delicious fish, but not very common. Caught chiefly in 
winter. Dr. A. Smith, in his illustrated work on South-African 
Zoology, has confounded this species with the former. Though in their 
general outlines closely related, both fishes are however easily discerned, 
not only by outward appearance, but yet more hy their anatomical 
differences, the one having a swim-bladder and the other not, and from 
the colour of the palate and peritoneum, which are white in the first 
species, but black in the second. 


5. Sclena Hololepidota, Cuv. & Val. fKabeljamo.) 
Body elongated, stout. Head large, rounded, bony ; 
mouth moderately large ; both mandibles armed in front 
with a row of strong, short, pointed, cylindrical, hooked 
teeth; none on the palate. Dorsal fin divided by a 
deep notch ; its soft rays longer than the spiny. Caudal 
fin truncate. Head purplish-blue, with aurora-red, 
mottled with yellow and green shades. Back and sides 
above the lateral line greenish-blue, marbled with faint 
orange and purple; fins often rose-red ; ♦lower part of 



the body pale flesh-red, mixed with green, purple, and 


A large fish, from two to three feet long. Common on the coast 
and at the month of rivers ; caught with the hook and drag-net. Is 
one of the staple fishes on the market, dried and salted like Cod, and 
exported to the Mauritius, and elsewhere. Its flesh, when young, is 
good, but firm and dry in adult individuals. 

6. Otolithus ^Equldens. Cuv. & Val. CGeelbeck.J 
Body oblong ; head conical ; mouth middle-sized ; lower 
jaw pointed, longest. Teeth in both mandibles nearly 
alike, numerous, sharp, crooked ; the anterior ones of the 
upper jaw, largest. First dorsal fin low, spiny ; caudal 
semilunated. Back and sides above the lateral line, dull 
bluish-purple, intermixed with green and orange ; upper 
surface of head flashed with aurora-red ; lower parts 
silvery white, tinted with purple-grey. Inside of mouth 
gamboge-yellow.* Iris orange. 

Clumsy, attaining a length of three feet and. more. Flesh dry, but fit 
for salting. Common along the whole coast, where it is caught abund- 
antly with the hook or net. It forms an article of food for the poor 
and lazy, and it is also prepared for exportation. 

7. Umbrina Capensis. Mihi. n. sp. (Baardmannetje.) 
Snout obtuse, thick, truncate ; lower jaw shortest with 
a barbel; dorsal fins distinct. Head reddish-brown tinged 
with gold. Back and sides ash-coloured on a silvery 
base. Lower jaw and belly white, sprinkled with minute 
dark dots. Scales large. Iris silvery. 

Measures from 2 to 2^- feet, and is reputed for its delicious flesh. 
Chiefly caught in False Bay during summer. 

8. Cheilodactylus Easciatus. Cuv. & Val. {Steen- 
viscJi.) — Body oblong, spindle-shaped ; head small ; lips 
fleshy, retractile ; the upper one longest. Eyes middle- 
sized, placed near the crown; mouth small; teeth velvety. 
The five last rays of the pectoral fins extended beyond 
their membrane, cartilagenous ; second ray largest, being 
three inches long ; the other three, shorter and shorter. 

* Hence the vernacular name Oeelbeck (yellow mouth). 


Caudal fin forked, scales large, almost quadrangular ; 
seven longitudinal stripes, covered with smaller scales, 
along the whole extent of the dorsal fin. Head olive- 
green, intermixed with orange; upper part of sides 
brimstone-yellow, tinged with green, purple and orange. 
Body crossed by five or six irregular vertical, purplish- 
brown bands. Belly yellowish- white, mottled with olive- 
green. Mouth and pectoral fins deep orange; the 
lengthened rays of the latter rose-red, upper ones and 
tail variegated with purplish lines. All other fins yellow- 
ish-green, with purplish-brown stripes or blots. Iris 
yellow. Length 13, breadth 4^ inches. 

A good table fish ; caught with the hook. Not very abundant in 
Table Bay. 

9. Cheilodactylus brachydactylus Cuv. & Val. 

fSteenklipvisch ; Pompelmoesje.J — Body oval ; head 

small ; lips fleshy, the upper one a little projecting ; 

mouth obtuse ; teeth criniform. The last six rays of the 

pectorals, cartilaginous, slightly detached from their 

connecting membrane, the second and third of them 

longest. These are rose-red, while the remainder, as 

well as the ventral fins are of an orange hue. Opercular 

and pre-opercular scales very small ; those of the body 

rather large. Head, back and flanks greenish-brown, 

lower parts and belly, silvery -white. Operculum and 

pre-operculum rose-red, tinged with silver and golden 

bronce. Middle-line sprinkled with six or seven dirty - 

white irregular dots. Fins brownish-green. Iris silvery, 

encircled by a yellow ring ; pupil dark blue. Total 

length 7 inches, breadth 2^ inches. 

Lives amongst the rocks at Green-point, and feeds on small Crus- 
tacea?. Its flesh is tender and wholesome. 



6e?yer.) — Body broad, nearly ovate ; head small, pro- 
jecting in front ; incisors firm, trenchant, similar to the 


human. -Colour blackish- brown, tinted with purple; 

back and sides crossed by five broad black vertical bands; 

belly silvery- white. Length about eighteen inches. 

Common to Table Bay from June to August, and much in request 
particularly at the time when it is with roe. It is also cured and 
pickled for ceconomical purposes. — From the circumstance of its being 
chiefly taken in deep water, near a place called Hangherg (overhanging 
rock), it has received its present colonial name. It feeds on shell-fish 
and is caught with the hook. 

11. Sargus Capensis. A.Smith. {Hottentot Fish.) 
Body much resembling that of the former, but more 
attenuated at base, and destitute of any bands or vertical 
stripes. Head purplish • back dull bluish-green with a 
metallic gloss; sides beneath the longitudinal line, silvery, 
with a reddish tint. Iris white. 

Caught at all seasons with the hook, and is not only a superior table 
fish, but forms, when salted and dried, an article of exportation. Mostly 
confined to Table Bay and the West Coast, were it is found abundantly. 
Length from twelve to fourteen inches. 

12. Chrysophrys Globiceps. Cuv. & Val. (Stomp- 
neus.) — Forehead arched, rounded, almost gibbous, 
muzzle obtuse, small ; teeth thick, firm, tubercular, 
standing in four rows on the sides of both jaws. Body 
broad. Crown above the eyes olive-green with aurora- 
red. Back bluish-grey • belly white, silvery ; a black 
spot at the insertion of the pectorals ; Iris red ; pupil 
dark. The younger individuals have six or seven brown 
longitudinal stripes, and six transversal dark bands, which 
disappear in the adults. 

A favourite fish, and often caught in great abundance during summer, 
with the drag-net. It also makes an excellent pickle-fish. 

13. Chrysophrys Laticeps. Cuv. & Val. (Boode 
Steenbrasem.) — Head very large, gibbous; crown elevat- 
ed, broad, convex, tapering towards the snout ; eyes 
almost vertical ; mouth of a moderate size ; muzzle 
pointed, but blunt ; lips fleshy. Upper mandible armed 
in front with four large, strong, conical teeth, and the 
lower one with six corresponding with those of the upper; 


middle teeth smaller than the lateral. Rows of sharp 
pointed teeth inside the mouth, followed by bands of 
round, granular molars. Soft rays of dorsal fin higher 
than the spiny ; caudal nearly truncate. Scales large. 
Liver divided into two unequal lobes of an ochreous hue, 
and with the gall-bladder proportionally small ; gullet 
dilated into a big, strong, muscular stomach, of an oblong 
shape ; pylorus supplied with four short ccecums of 
different length. Swim-bladder large, simple and firm. 
Intestines a little longer than the whole fish. Head faint 
purple with aurora-red ; back dull greyish-green ; sides 
and belly slightly flesh-red, on silvery ground. Groove 
between the maxillary and intermaxillary bones, safFron- 
vellow. Fins reddish. 

This bulky fish often exceeds 3i feet in length and 14 inches in 
breadth. It is very voracious and feeds generally on crabs and cuttle- 
fish. (Sepia and Loligo.) As food, it is much prized and is also 
cured for exportation. — Not very common in Table Bay, but caught 
abundantly in False Bay and on the shores of Hottentots' Holland. 

14. Chrysophrys Cristiceps. Cuv. & Val. (?) 
{Roman.) — Body of a beautiful orange colour, shaded 
by silver. Head and jaws of a deep orange hue. Between 
the eyes a falcated band of pure indigo blue, and a 
narrow stripe of the same colour, running along each 
side of the dorsal ; a broad, silvery line extends from the 
dorsal nearly to the anal fin. All fins crimson, with a 
shade of silver. Iris red. Young specimens do not 
exhibit the vivid hues, so remarkable in adults. Head 
and back reddish-brown ; flanks and belly orange. An 
azure dot stands in the centre of the middle line. 

One of the prettiest and most delicious fishes on our markets. Its 
flesh is generally acknowledged to be a superior dish. It is common 
in the waters east of Table Bay, and especially near the Roman Rock, 
where it is caught with the hook and drag-net in great numbers. — A 
strayed individual, caught "in Table Bay on the 14th of June 1849, 
measured 16 inches in length, and 7 in breadth. 

15. Chrysoblephus Gibbiceps. Swains. (Baaische 
Boode Stompneus ; Pbeskop). — Head very large, broader 


than the body. Front obtuse, truncate ; the profile 
almost vertical. Eyes near the crown, which is elevated 
and gibbous. Lateral line terminating at the lower side 
of the tail (Swainson). Mouth middle-sized; teeth strong. 
Back and sides rose-red • lower parts silvery. Length 
H to 2 feet. 

A large snow-wliite spot in front of the forehead, enhances the 
beauty of this singular fish, which ranks amongst the choicest in this 
Colony. It is rare in Table Bay, but frequently caught with the hook 
in False Bay, Mostert Bay, Fishhoek, and in similar localities. It is 
also exported. 

16. Pagrus laniarius. Cuv. & Val. (Dayeraad.) 
Front higher than in Chrysophrys. Strong conical teeth 
in the upper jaw, which are directed forward, and project 
from the mouth, the two outer teeth being longer and 
thicker than the rest, and those of the lower jaw much 
smaller. The whole fish is of a dark rose-colour, with a 
black spot at the insertion of the pectorals, and with 
another on the extremity of the dorsal fin. Lower jaw 
white; iris silvery; length 12 inches. 

Highly prized for its delicious flesh. Not found in Table Bay, bu^ 
frequently caught with the hook in the waters towards the east and 
south of Cape Town. This handsome fish owns its surname of Lamarim 
(butcher) both to its colour and to its sharp teeth and voracity. 


Kaapsche Steenbrasem.) — Body elongated, fusiform ; 
head lengthened, projecting ; mouth small, terminal ; 
the maxillaries thick, enlarged, very hard ; tail slightly 
forked (Swainson). Back dark marine-blue, belly white 
tinged with purple. Length 2^ feet and upwards. 

An excellent table fish and very fit for pickling and salting. Caught 
with baited hooks during summer ; especially in Hout Bay. 

IS. Pagellus Afer. Mihi. n. sp. (Boode Kaapsche 
Slompncuz.) — Body ovate, broad, somewhat compressed. 
Lower jaw a little shorter than the upper one. Mouth 
obtuse ; front teeth conical, stronger and larger than 
those within ; both jaws paved internally with two rows 
of round molars. Lateral line well-marked. Head and 


back aurora-red, mottled with blue and gold on a silvery 
ground. Sides of the body crossed by five or six sky- 
blue, broken, longitudinal stripes. Lower mandible and 
belly white. All fins faintly rose-red ; apex of the tail 
orange. Iris purplish. Length 12 — 14 inches. Dor- 
sal \\. Anal g. Caudal, 11. Pectoral, 15. Ventral, J. 

One of the best fishes in the market. Its flesh is white and delicious. 
Superficially examined, it bears some resemblance to the Cape Silverfish 
(Dentex Argyrozona) , from which it is easily distinguished, not only 
by its broader form, and less vivid hue, but also by the absence of the 
six rose-red longitudinal bands, and by the formation of its teeth. 
Caught w'ith the hook during winter, and pretty common on the market. 

19. Dentex Rupestris. Cuv. & Val. {Bastard 

Silverfish ; Seventy -four?) — Body large, bulky ; teeth of 

the outer row large, cylindrical, curved and pointed ; 

the four front ones of its jaws strongest. Scales large ; 

lateral line broken. Back and sides above the lateral 

line aurora-red, clouded by ultra-marine, blue, green, 

and faint purple, with an orange tint towards the tail. 

Lower parts of the body aurora-red, tinged with orange, 

and shaded with ultra-marine blue (A. Smith). Length, 

about two feet. 

Barely found in Table Bay, but considered one of the very finest 
fishes in the Colony. It is chiefly confined to the east of the Cape, 
where it is caught with the hook or net in great abundance. It is also 
cured for foreign markets. 

20. Dentex Argyrozona. Cuv. & Val. (Silverfish.) 
Body oblong ; eyes large ; mouth of a moderate size ; 
teeth like those of the preceding species. — Head, back, 
and sides above the lateral line aurora-red on a silvery 
base ; hue below that line faint flesh-red, striped with 
five to six narrow, longitudinal, pale, rose-red bands. 
Belly white, silvery ; fins purplish-red ; Iris scarlet. 
Length from 16 to 20 inches. 

This very voracious fish feeds principally on small fish and crabs. It 
is common on the Cape market throughout the year, and forms also an 
article of export. 

21. Cantharus Blochii. Cuv. & Val. (?) (Wwdtoy.) 



Body broad, oval. Head tapering towards the muzzle, 
and forming a curvature above the eyes. Jaws free, 
somewhat protractile. Anterior teeth small, but sharp ; 
inner rows velvety. Spines of dorsal fin strong, spiny ; 
pectoral fins round at base and pointed at the apex ; 
scales middle-sized. Tail unequal, upper side longest. 
Length 12 inches; breadth nearly 5 inches. — D. \l; 
A. ! 3 2 ; P. 17. V. J. C. 17. Head and back olive-green; 
sides silvery, with a faint rosy gloss ; fins pale rose-red. 
Pectoral fins with a black spot at their insertion. Iris 

A delicious table fish, more commonly caught in winter, and often 
put up in bundles along with Sargus Capensis (Hottentot fish), from 
which it is easily distinguished by a very superficial examination. 

22. Cantharus Emarginatus. Cuv. & Val. (Dasje.) 
Body lanceolate ; front roundish, with a curvature hardly 
perceptible ; muzzle pointed and partly concealed beneath 
the suborbital bone, which has a deep emargination in 
front of the eyes. Front teeth small, but crowded, 
pointed and sharp. Scales minute ; lateral line moder- 
ately bent and well marked. D. \l. A. ^ V. 5. P. 15. 
C. 17. Head, back, and sides faint brown, on a silvery 
ground ; a greenish-blue metallic lustre above and in 
front of the eyes. Body striped with some narrow, 
yellowish, longitudinal bands ; pectoral fins, with a dark 
spot at their base ; abdomen white, tinged with light 
brown. Length, twelve to fourteen inches. 

Ptare in Table Bay, but more frequently caught in the several Bays 
to the East of the Cape. Its flesh is highly esteemed as food. 

23. Boops Salpa. Cuv. & Val. (?) {Bamboesvisch ; 
SUnkvisch.) — Body subovate, attenuated at both ends ; 
mouth small, obtuse, not protractile ; external teeth 
broad, trenchant ; scales minute. Head olive-green ; 
with a flash of gold ; body silvery with eight to ten 
longitudinal golden stripes. Iris yellow. A black 
speck at the base of the pectoral fin. Length, twelve 
inches, or more. 


The fish feeds only on Alga, and is caught principally in localities, 
where there is an abundance of sea- weed. Amongst the latter, the 
Ecklonia buccinalis (Zeebamboes) and our large Sargassa (S. longifo- 
lium and S. integrifolhim) are its usual haunts, and hence the vernacular 
name of Bamboo-fish. On account of its vegetable nourishment, it 
exhibits at times a particular smell, when embowelled, and is for that 
reason called Stink-fisJi by some of the fishermen. It is a rich and 
delicate fish, and though scarce on the Cape Town market, is common 
in Saldanha Bay, were it is dried and salted for home consumption. 


24. Pimelepterus Puscus. Cuv. & Val. {Bastard 
Jacob Evertsen). — Body oblong, bulky; bead small; 
snout obtuse ; teeth strong, cutting, singularly ranged in 
one row ; eyes large, protruding. Pins thick ; covered 
by scales, whence the scientific name (Pat-fin). Two 
dorsal fins, united at base. Length, two feet. 

This fish is of a uniform dusky brown colour. Its flesh is well 
flavoured and very nice. Caught chiefly in Simon's Bay and along the 
East coast. Feeds on shell-fish. 

25. Dipterodon Capensis. Cuv. & Val. (Galjoen- 

visch, Galleon-fish.) — Body oval ; outer teeth strong, 

large, trenchant, resembling those of Sargus. Lips 

fleshy ; mouth proportionally small. Two dorsal fins ; 

the second as well as the anal, and part of the caudal, 

thick, covered by very minute scales. — Head, back, and 

fins ash-coloured grey, or faint brown ; sides with six 

silvery vertical bands reaching the middle of the belly, 

which is silvery-white and tinged with purplish-red. 

Length, from fifteen to twenty inches. 

This fish, more plentiful in the Western Division of the Colony, is 
highly esteemed as food, and always fetches a good price. It is, how- 
ever, disliked by some, on account of the many black veins, traversing 
its flesh, and is at times rather unwholesome, from being too rich, and 
requiring good digestive organs. It is caught with the drag-net during 


26. Scomber Capensis. Cuv. & Val. (Hal/cord.) 
Body oblong, adipose ; muzzle obtuse ; lower jaw some- 


what projecting ; teeth numerous, small, velvety. First 

dorsal fin spiny, connected by a membrane , second 

dorsal longer than the anal. Pectoral and ventral fins 

equally long ; caudal forked. The lateral line is bent at 

the upper part of the body, but becomes straight towards 

its end. Head, back, and sides dark marine-blue, with 

a broad greenish-yellow streak, running from eye to tail, 

which latter is crested. Abdomen white, silvery ; fins 

yellowish-green. Iris white. 

A large fish, measuring from two to three feet. It is rather uncom- 
mon in Table Bay, but taken with the hook occasionally. It3 flesh 
being very rich and deemed unwholesome, it is not in much request, 
and is therefore chiefly used as pickle-fish. 

27. Scomber Grex. Mitchill. (Mackerel^ — Body 

oblong, rounded, fat, smooth, covered with minute scales; 

teeth small ; dorsal fins two ; caudal fin deeply forked ; 

tail bearing finlets ; its sides not carinated at base. Has 

a natatory bladder. Form and colour much like that of 

the common Mackerel. Body and sides light-green, with 

darker stripes of the same hue. Length, about eighteen 

inches and upwards. 

This species, which is caught with the line, is little liked, on account 
of its greasiness. It is common in Table Bay during winter, and is 
chiefly pickled. 

28. Thyrsites Atun. Cuv. & Val. (Snook ; Snoek.) 

Body cylindrical, elongated ; jaws protracted ; the lower 

one longest. Mouth wide; teeth large, conical, trenchant, 

sharp; the palate beset with smaller ones. First dorsal 

fin very long ; tail without a lateral keel ; skin rather 

naked. Back blackish-blue with metallic lustre ; sides 

and belly silvery. Length, often exceeding three feet. 

This voracious fish is caught with the hook, in immense numbers, 
almost all the year round, but more frequently during summer. It is 
very strong and ferocious, and is despatched, after being pulled on 
board, by blows on the head, with a kind of knobkierie. Its flesh is 
highly prized by the majority of the Colonists, who also salt and dry it 
for home consumption, and as an article of trade. 

29. Lichia Amia. Cuv. & Val. (Leervisch.) — Body 


compressed, oval, nearly rhomboid ; broadest in the 
middle and attenuated at both ends- Mouth moderately 
large ; jaws of equal length ; front teeth in a number of 
rows, small, but sharply pointed and closely set. A line 
of large teeth on each side of the palate. Dorsal fins, 
two ; first one with eight detached prickles, the foremost 
of which is turned forward. Anal fin shorter than the 
dorsal ; tail without lateral keels. Head, back, and 
upper parts of the sides steel-blue ; lower parts silvery, 
shaded with faint brown. Fins yellowish ; belly pure 
white. Length, from two to three feet. 

Taken occasionally in Table Bay, but not in great repute, its flesh 
being deemed dry and rather insipid. 

30. Temnodon Saltator. Cuv. (Elftvisch.) — Body 
oblong, slightly compressed; mouth large; lower jaw 
longest ; both mandibles armed in front with detached, 
trenchant, pointed sharp teeth, and within and behind 
with smaller ones. Dorsal fins, two ; first smaller and 
lower than the second ; its rays jointed by a delicate 
membrane. Tail destitute of a lateral keel and spurious 
fins. Length about two feet. 

This fish is uniformly lead-coloured, shaded with dark-green on its 
back. From leaping now and then out of the water, it has obtained its 
name of Saltator (Jumper). It is held in great esteem as a table-fish 
and the younger individuals are truly deemed a dainty. It is often 
caught in Table Bay, particularly in summer. 

31. Caranx Trachurus Lacep. (Maasb anker ; Bas- 
tard Mackerel J — Body spindle-shaped, broad, com- 
pressed. Each jaw with a row of straight minute teeth. 
Lateral line armed with scaly, carinated. prickly bands. 
Dorsal fins, two ; first low and small. Pectoral fins 
long, falcated; two detached spines before the anal fin. 
Scales minute. Upper part of the body of a bluish lead- 
coloured hue ; lower parts silvery white. Iris gilt. 
Length, twelve to eighteen inches. 

Caught in winter at both ends of the Colony. Its flesh is well 
flavoured and wholesome. 


— -J 


32. Stromateus Capensis. Mihi. N. Sp. (Katmiker.j 
Body compressed, oblong-rhomboid; head obtuse; mouth, 
small, not projectile ; teeth velvety. One dorsal only, 
covered with epidermis ; no ventral fin. Caudal nearly 
as long as the dorsal. Tail forked ; scales small. Lon- 
gitudinal line almost straight. Head olive-green, upper 
part of the body light-blue, with some faint yellow longi- 
tudinal stripes ; belly silvery, with a red tint. Iris 
white. The specimen from which this description is 
drawn, measured thirteen inches long and five and a half 
inches broad. 

A good table-fish, but not common. It is caught with the hook and 
net, chiefly East of Table Bay. 

33. Lepidopus Argyretjs. Cuv. & Val. (Kallcvisch ; 

Scabbard-fish. J — Body compressed, lengthened, narrow, 

riband-like ; skin smooth. Head pointed, bearing a 

great resemblance to that of the Snook. Mouth gaping, 

large, armed with rows of strong trenchant teeth, and 

four larger ones in front. Under jaw projecting beyond 

the upper. Dorsal fin low and equal, nearly as long as 

the back ; pectoral fins small, hooked ; two round scales 

as rudiments of a ventral fin. Anal fin short, caudal 

small, forked. Lateral line straight. Colour of back 

faint steel-blue, on a silvery ground ; the whole surface 

of the body clothed with a silvery dust. Length five 

feet ; breadth from three to four inches. 

This curious fish swims in undulating motions and with astounding- 
velocity. It is but very rarely caught in the net. In the course of six 
years, not more than three individuals, to my knowledge, were taken 
in Table Bay. I found its flesh fine and delicious. 


34. Mugil Capensis. Cuv. & Val. (Harder; Mullet.) 
Body oblong, nearly cylindrical, robust. Head small, 
broad, flat ; muzzle, short, blunt ; lower jaw with a 
depression, corresponding to a prominence in the upper 
one. Superior mandible provided with a row of fine, 


diminutive teeth. Scales rather large. Dorsal fins two ; 

remote from each other ; first with four spin y rays ; 

pectoral fins pointed, caudal forked. Surface of head and 

back dark steel-blue, mingled with oil-green j sides 

beneath the lateral line greyish-white, on silvery ground • 

cheeks, lower jaw, belly, and ventral fin white. Fins 

greyish- green. Body crossed by nine narrow longitudinal 

lines. Interior of mouth pure-white ; Iris silvery. Length 

fourteen inches ; breadth nearly four inches. 

This species, as well as the following, enters the mouth of several 
rivers. Nursed in ponds, it grows extremely fat, and attains an un- 
common size. A specimen so fed measured nineteen inches. 

35. Mugil Multilineatus. A. Smith (?) (Springer ; 
Leaping Mullet. J — Greatly resembling the former, but 
easily distinguishable • its head being neither so broad 
nor flat, but rather a little convex on its top. Lower 
jaw more rounded, and body traversed by thirteen lon- 
gitudinal narrow stripes. Colour of back and upper side 
greenish-brown : crown of head faint purple with oil- 
green. Gill covers tinted with gold ; ventral fin purplish. 
Lower part of belly greyish- white on a silvery base. Length 
twelve inches. It is in the habit of leaping constantly 
and with considerable velocity, when it finds itself 
entangled in a net ; and hence its name. 

Besides the two kinds of Mullet here described, there are three or 
four more species recorded as inhabitants of the bays and rivers of the 
Colony. All of them are caught with the net. They make good 
table-fish, but are more frequently salted or smoke-dried (Bokkoms), 
like the Herring, and, thus preserved, form a very considerable article 
of home consumption as well as of export. 


36. Blennius Versicolor. Mihi. N. Sp. (Klipvisch.) 
Body elongated, smooth, slimy, spindle-shaped ; head 
thick, obtuse ; forehead tapering towards the snout. 
Muzzle short, truncate ; mouth small ; lips fleshy ; teeth 
in several rows ; those of the first, strong, pointed, conic, 
hooked ; inner ones small, paved. Dorsal fin nearly as 


long as the body, commencing right over the crown of 
the head ; its first three rays longest, spiny, separated 
from the soft ones by a deep emargination. Ventral 
placed before the pectoral fins, and consists of only two 
rays. A small tentaculary, three-fid appendage above 
each eye-brow ; and a tubercular excrescence near the 
anus, in both sexes. It is ovoviviparous. No fish 
perhaps displays a greater diversity of hues, than this, 
and to make out any specific difference amongst its 
many varieties, is next to impossible, I am thus inclined 
to unite them under one common denomination, expres- 
sive at once, of the changeable character of their colours. 
The following are the chief varieties observed by me in 
fresh specimens. 

1. Prevailing colour blood-red, mottled with greyish- 
white irregular blots ; abdomen purplish on a white 
ground ; fins deep-red, tinged with greyish- green. Iris 
purple. Length twelve inches. Caught principally 
amongst the rocks of Robben Island. 

2. Head, back, and sides dark purple, marbled with 
reddish-brown, flesh-red, orange, and pale yellow marks. 
Belly white, shaded with purple. Pectoral rays striped 
with purplish-brown bands, ; dorsal, caudal and anal 
fins dull-brown, spotted with yellowish-green dots. Iris 
purple. Length ten to twelve inches. {Blennius rubes- 
cens. Lichtemt. ?) Extremely pretty ; caught along with 
the former. 

3. Upper part of body pale yellowish-brown ; head 
olive-green ; sides and belly gamboge-yellow, sprinkled 
with irregular greenish-white marks ; pectoral and caudal 
fins without bands ; dorsal and anal with faint-green 
spots. Iris yellow. Length eight to ten inches. 

4. The whole of back, sides, and fins olive-green ; 
belly of a deeper yellow tint, with some white blots 
along the lateral line. Iris-yellow. Length six to eight 


The Klhp-jizli is greatly reputed for its flesh, which is nice, well- 
flavoured, and wholesome. 


37. Bagrus Capensis. A. Smith. (Bagger!) — Body 
oblong, thick, smooth, slimy ; head large, broad, nearly 
flat above ; muzzle round, blunt ; upper lip fleshy, with 
a barbel on both sides ; teeth crowded, velvety ; chin 
supplied with four barbels, which are shorter than those 
of the upper jaw. Dorsal fins two • second flat, fleshy, 
smaller than the first ; pectoral fins moderate; anal large, 
caudal deeply forked. Upper part of head, back and 
sides dark greenish-brown; lower parts shaded irregu- 
larly with blue, yellow, and silver, and flashed with a 
bronzy lustre. Belly dull greyish-white, speckled with 
small brown dots, and clouded with purple. Base of tail 
red ; fins faintly flesh-coloured. Iris yellow. Length 
twelve to sixteen inches. 

Owing to its ugliness, this curious fish, which hides itself amongst 
stones in muddy water, the better to entrap its unsuspecting prey, is, 
from popular prejudice, less prized than it deserves. Its flesh is 
extremely delicate, and bears a greater resemblance to that of the Eel, 
than that of any other sea-fish caught in the Colony. 


38. Clupea Ocellata. Mihi. N. Sp. (Shad; Sardyn.) 
Body compressed, elongated ; head flattened at top ; 
muzzle obtuse ; upper jaw with a central notch, and a 
little projecting. No teeth in either mandible ; eyes and 
scales large. One dorsal only, tail deeply forked. Length 
six to seven inches. Head and back blue, changeable 
to green, and shaded with purple, yellow, and gold. 
Lower jaw and gill-covers silvery, with a reflecting 
golden lustre ; sides above the lateral line crossed by 
a sky-blue longitudinal stripe. A line of eight to fifteen 
round, black, eye-light spots, extends from the upper 


edge of the operculum, along the whole body. Belly 
silvery. Iris gilt. 

It would appear that this species stands intermediate between the 
common Shad (Clupea alosa) and the Twaite Shad (Clupea finta) pos- 
sessing the toothless mouth of the former, but the size and colouring of 
the latter. Its natural length never exceeds six to seven inches. It is 
caught with the net and used occasionally as pickle-fish. 

39. Engraulis Encrasicolus. Elem. (Ansjovis ; 

Anchovy?) — Body slender ; head and snout pointed ; 

upper jaw projecting considerably. Mouth deeply and 

horizontally cleft far behind the eyes. Maxillaries and 

palate armed with small, but sharp numerous teeth. 

Scales large and deciduous ; tail deeply forked. Top of 

head and back blue, with a tinge of green ; flanks and 

belly silvery. Ems greenish- white. Length four to five 


Caught sometimes abundantly, with the net, in summer, but little 
used in the Colony, the Cape salt being found unfit for its preservation 
as a condiment. 


40. Gadus Merlucius. Lin. (Stok-visch ; Hake.) 

Body elongated, slender ; head broad, bony, depressed. 

Lower mandible protruding beyond the upper one ; 

mouth very wide ; teeth long, sharp, in a double row 

in each jaw ; first row smaller and shorter than the 

inner-one. Two dorsal fins ; first three-angular ; caudal 

fin slightly lunate ; ventral ovate, with five rays. No 

barbie under the chin. Scales large. — Upper part of the 

body dusky-brown, with a bluish, steel- coloured gloss ; 

belly dirty- white. Iris-yellow ; inside of mouth black. 

Length from two to three feet. 

It is remarkable that this fish, a notorious denizen of the European 
seas, was utterly unknown at the Cape of Good Hope before the earth- 
quake of 1809 (4th December). At first it was scarce and sold at 
exorbitant prices (4s 6d.) Since that period it has yearly increased in 
numbers, and is now a standard fish on the market, being caught in 
great abundance. 


English writers on Ichthyology comment very unfavourably on its 
merits, and call it a " coarse fish, scarcely fit for the dinner table." At 
the Cape its qualities are generally and fully appreciated ; in fact, its 
flesh is highly delicate and but little inferior to that of the Hadok 
(Gadus iEglefinus). At times it makes its appearance in large shoals. 
It is then abundantly caught, salted, and dried for exportation. The 
cured or dried Cape Stok-fish is an excellent dish, far superior to that 
insipid stuff introduced from Holland or other countries. 


41. Xiphiurus Capensis. A. Smith. (KoningMip- 
visch ; Kings BocJc-fish.) — Body almost cylindrical, 
moderately robust. Head large ; two rows of larger 
teeth in the upper, one of smaller ones in the lower 
jaw; vomer armed with teeth of the same description. 
Two barbels pending from the under surface of the 
lower mandible. Pectoral fins of an oval form ; dorsal, 
caudal, and anal fins united. Tail narrow, tapering, 
compressed, sword-shaped. Ventral fins, none. Scales 
very small (A. Smith). Has a large and very firm 
air-bladder. Flesh-coloured and clouded by a variety 
and intermixture of hues, difficult to describe. Lower 
surface, belly, and point of tail tinted with pale purple. 

This fish, in some respects, seems closely allied to the family of the 
Gadidce, while on the other hand it somewhat resembles the Murcenidce. 
Although its habitat is deep water, and not (as its name implies) 
amongst cliffs and rocks, yet it justly deserves the title of King's-fish, 
being, without exception, the most desirable fish obtainable in our 
bays. It is rather scarce, is an expert swimmer, appears on the coast 
as a harbinger of rough, stormy weather during winter, and commonly 
sells at very remunerating prices. Dr. Andrew Smith, the intelligent 
South African traveller, gave the first description of this fish in his 
admirable Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa. It was how- 
ever known previously to Barrow (1 797), who, in his travels, (page 30) 
mentions it in the following terms : " Another Blennius, called King's 
Rock-fish, is sometimes caught (in Table Bay), to which, from its 
resemblance to the Murcence of the Ancients, Naturalists have given 
the specific name of Murcenoides." 

I quote this passage for the purpose of contradicting Dr. Smith, 
who says : "that during one of the several earthquakes, which occurred 
many years ago, at the Cape, one or more sandbanks were formed near 
the entrance of Table Bay, and, that not long after, the first specimens 


of this fish were obtained." It is evident that by some mistake or 
other, he attributed to the Xiphiurus what applies to the Stokvisck. 


42. Solea Vulgaris, Cuv. {Tony ■ Sole.) — Body 
oblong, flat, pointed towards the tail ; snout arcuated, 
projecting beyond the mouth, which is fringed below 
with small ciliated scales. Jaws unequal, armed on the 
under or white side only, with very minute, crowded 
teeth ; eyes small, spherical, placed near each other on 
the upper or coloured side. Dorsal and anal fins 
extending as far as the tail. Ventral fins near the head ; 
tail slightly rounded; lateral line straight. Length ten 
to fifteen inches. Upper surface olivaceous-brown, 
obscurely spotted with patches of a deeper hue ; scales 
small, roundish, ciliated, rough to the touch ; the upper 
side apparently reticulated ; fins tipped with purplish- 
brown stripes. Lower side dull white, mixed with faint 
purple. Iris yellow. 

It is hardly required to say much of this, almost cosmopolitical fish, 
which is, for its delicacy, prized as well at the Cape as elsewhere. It is 
not common, however, in the colony, and it rarely surpasses the length 
of twelve inches, although there are instances known of individuals 
measuring a foot and a half. 


43. Rhinobatus Annulatus. A. Smith. {Zand- 
kruiper.) — Body convex above, level below, tapering 
from head to tail. Head flat, nearly three- sided; eyes 
small ; teeth crowded, paved, blunt ; clusters of small 
thorns between the eyes, and minute spines along the 
dorsal line. Dorsal fins two, close to the caudal, which 
is oval, ventral fins small ; skin rough, like sha-green. 
Length two feet and upwards. Upper side yellowish- 
grey, with a greenish shade, sprinkled all over with 
white eye-like spots ; under surface faint flesh-red, 
bordered with white. 


This fish, which always dwells in localities, where the bottom of the 
sea is level and sandy, is rather scarce in Table Bay. Its flesh is 
tender and delicate. 

Raia Maculata. Montag. (Bog ; Spate ; 
Spotted Bay?) — Body rhomboid, horizontally flat on 
both sides ; snout narrow, pointed, blunt ; mouth, 
nostrils, and gills on the under surface of the 'body. 
Teeth in many rows in both jaws ; sharp, pointed, 
conical, and curved in the male; paved, broad, and 
flat in the female. Tail long, thin, three-sided, fur- 
nished all along its edges with three lines of strong, 
hooked, but irregular spines, and with two small 
dorsal fins towards its end. Both surfaces more or 
less smooth, but snout and upper margin of the large 
pectoral fins armed with clusters of hooked spines in the 
male, and with curved tubercular denticles in the female. 
Male provided with cylindrical cartilaginous appendages 
(claspers) to each ventral fin. Female larger than the 
male. Length two and a half feet and more. Colour 
above pale yellowish-brown, sprinkled with numerous, 
irregular, faint bluish-grey spots. Under surface some- 
what rough, greyish-white, tinged with purple. 

A good table fish, and a fore-runner of bad weather. It is caught 
with the net. 

To the number of edible fishes enumerated here, I feel bound to add 
one, which I never saw, but which I introduce on the incontestable 
authority of Dr. A. Smith, who has given the following description of 
•it in the First Volume of the South African Quarterly Journal (1830) 
a publication full of interesting and useful information respecting the 
Cape Colony. 

45. Serranus Cuvierii. A. Smith. {Bock Cod.) 
Colour of back and sides brownish-yellow with blotches, 
streaks of irregular bands of dusky greenish-black; lower 
part of sides and belly reddish-yellow, with slight 
mixture of brown. Dorsal fins deep dusky -brown, with 
the extremities of the spinous rays reddish ; ventral fins 



towards apices brown, towards bases yellow ; bases of 

pectoral fins bluish- white, finely spotted with orange; 

rest reddish-brown ; tail even, or only very slightly 

rounded, with the hinder edge narrowly marginated with 

white. Eyes orange. 

A full-grown specimen of this fish measures about two and a half 
feet ; it inhabits the ocean along the East coast of Africa, particularly 
about Algoa Bay, where it is frequently caught, and highly esteemed as 
an article of food. 


Van 'U- Sandt dn Villiera # Tier, Printer*, 62, Caatle-street, Cape Town. 












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